Missing the point, in 28,000 words

Question: What are we to make of Paul Berman’s grandiose, self-indulgent, 28,000-word essay on Tariq Ramadan in the latest issue of the New Republic (aside from the fact that it happens to have the same title as an FP interview with Ramadan from 2004)? Answer: Not much. After printing out 49 pages and reading Berman’s ...

601582_070530_ramadan_05.jpg
601582_070530_ramadan_05.jpg

Question: What are we to make of Paul Berman's grandiose, self-indulgent, 28,000-word essay on Tariq Ramadan in the latest issue of the New Republic (aside from the fact that it happens to have the same title as an FP interview with Ramadan from 2004)?

Answer: Not much. After printing out 49 pages and reading Berman's piece (as well as Ian Buruma's vastly more concise profile of Ramadan in the New York Times Magazine, which Berman critiques at great length), I'm still not sure what he would have the world do with Ramadan. Arrest him? Criticize him? Ignore him? What's it all about?

Berman seems not to understand, moreover, that while Ayaan Hirsi Ali certainly offers some insightful criticisms of Islam, as someone who has renounced her religion, she's not very influential within the Muslim world itself. Ramadan, however, is popular and influential among Muslims in Europe. He matters. An essay in an elite Washington magazine won't change that, no matter how long and comprehensive it may be.

Question: What are we to make of Paul Berman’s grandiose, self-indulgent, 28,000-word essay on Tariq Ramadan in the latest issue of the New Republic (aside from the fact that it happens to have the same title as an FP interview with Ramadan from 2004)?

Answer: Not much. After printing out 49 pages and reading Berman’s piece (as well as Ian Buruma’s vastly more concise profile of Ramadan in the New York Times Magazine, which Berman critiques at great length), I’m still not sure what he would have the world do with Ramadan. Arrest him? Criticize him? Ignore him? What’s it all about?

Berman seems not to understand, moreover, that while Ayaan Hirsi Ali certainly offers some insightful criticisms of Islam, as someone who has renounced her religion, she’s not very influential within the Muslim world itself. Ramadan, however, is popular and influential among Muslims in Europe. He matters. An essay in an elite Washington magazine won’t change that, no matter how long and comprehensive it may be.

More from Foreign Policy

A Panzerhaubitze 2000 tank howitzer fires during a mission in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.
A Panzerhaubitze 2000 tank howitzer fires during a mission in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.

Lessons for the Next War

Twelve experts weigh in on how to prevent, deter, and—if necessary—fight the next conflict.

An illustration showing a torn Russian flag and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
An illustration showing a torn Russian flag and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It’s High Time to Prepare for Russia’s Collapse

Not planning for the possibility of disintegration betrays a dangerous lack of imagination.

An unexploded tail section of a cluster bomb is seen in Ukraine.
An unexploded tail section of a cluster bomb is seen in Ukraine.

Turkey Is Sending Cold War-Era Cluster Bombs to Ukraine

The artillery-fired cluster munitions could be lethal to Russian troops—and Ukrainian civilians.

A joint session of Congress meets to count the Electoral College vote from the 2008 presidential election the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol  January 8, 2009 in Washington.
A joint session of Congress meets to count the Electoral College vote from the 2008 presidential election the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol January 8, 2009 in Washington.

Congrats, You’re a Member of Congress. Now Listen Up.

Some brief foreign-policy advice for the newest members of the U.S. legislature.